Can You Donate Your Liver If You're Still Alive?
Did you know that you can donate part of your liver and it will regrow and function normally again in just a few months? Living liver donation is the best option to help patients with end-stage liver disease receive a life-saving organ.
A living liver donor must be at minimum:
- 18 years of age or older,
- in good mental and physical health, and
- voluntarily willing and fully prepared to go through the donation process.
Potential donors are also required to complete the donor evaluation process.
To see if you meet criteria for living liver donation, you will need to complete a screening survey with a member of the living donor team. Once a liver physician reviews your initial intake, a nurse coordinator will contact you about the next step in the evaluation process.
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The evaluation includes a complete medical history, physical exam, series of laboratory and radiology tests, and any other testing you need for medical clearance.
Selection & Matching
Once evaluation testing is complete, the living donor multidisciplinary committee will review your results. They will then decide if you can safely proceed with the donation. We will notify you about the committee's decision.
Living donors and organ recipients must have a compatible blood type. Read the blood type compatibility chart below to see what type of blood the donor and recipient must have in order for transplant surgery to be successful:
|Donor's Blood Type||Transplant Candidate's Blood Type|
|A or O||A|
|B or O||B|
|A, B, AB, or O||AB|
If your surgery is approved, the multidisciplinary team will continue to work closely with you to schedule surgery and give you additional information about your donation process.
We will schedule a follow-up visit with a surgeon within two weeks after your donation. You will also see the surgeon and have blood work with labs at three months, six months, one year, and two years after your donation. This clinical information and results are important to safely monitor your recovery.
Independent Living Donor Advocate (ILDA)
During the entire donation process, the independent living donor advocate (ILDA) is available to you to ensure your rights as a donor are protected.
Living Donor Transplant: Hear From Our Patient
Are you considering living organ donation but are worried about costs of care? There are resources available to living donors to help remove financial barriers and assure living donors are not negatively impacted financially by their donation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Living Liver Donation
If you have a serious liver condition, living liver donation is the best way to ensure you get the life-saving organ donation you need.
How Do I Ask Someone to Be My Donor?
If you need a liver donation, there are a few things you should do to see if living liver donation is an option for you. You must have a close emotional connection to your potential donor.
- Educate your family and friends about your medical condition.
- Let them know living donation is the best option to get a healthy donation when you need it, even though you can still be listed on the deceased donor waiting list.
- Educate yourself about living donation so you understand what steps your donor will have to go through.
How Long Does it Take For a Donor to Be Evaluated?
Our living donor program lets donors complete evaluation testing at their own pace. We will have a potential donor complete many tests to make sure they're healthy enough to donate a portion of their liver.
Testing usually takes four to six weeks. Testing may take longer if our transplant specialists need to perform additional tests.
When Can My Donor Start the Evaluation Process?
After our specialists at University of Utah Health's liver clinic meet with you, your potential donor can start the evaluation process by taking our living donor survey.
If someone knows in advance that they are committed to being your live donor, please have them take our living donor survey above. Your donor can contact us before we see you in our clinic.
Can My Donor Go Through the Evaluation Process in Another State?
Your donor can get most of the early testing and evaluation in their local area, even if they live outside of Utah. Please note that if your donor has tests at another hospital, the evaluation process may take longer.
Can My Donor Have the Surgery in Another State?
Your donor must have the donation surgery at University of Utah Hospital.
How Many Potential Donors Can You Evaluate For Me?
We can evaluate two potential donors at the same time to see if they are good matches for you.
Who Should I Contact to Find Out About My Donor's Evaluation?
If you'd like to learn about how your potential donor's evaluation is going, you can contact your transplant coordinator. She can help answer any questions during the evaluation process.
Because of patient privacy laws, we cannot provide you with specific information about your donor's testing.
Will My Donor Have to Pay For the Surgery?
Living donors do not pay for any costs for the transplant surgery. Instead, we will bill the recipient's insurance company after the transplant surgery is over.
Your liver donor must pay for transportation, housing, time off work, and any standard health tests like pap smears, mammograms, and colonoscopies. However, there are financial assistance resources available for living donors to help remove any financial barriers they may come across.
How Long Does My Donor Need to Stay in Salt Lake City After the Donation?
We will ask your donor to stay in the Salt Lake Area for about two weeks after the donation surgery. We may ask your donor to stay longer depending on how well she is recovering.
Living Liver Donor Coordinator
The living donor coordinator oversees the coordination of care for the living liver donor, starting at the initial intake, through the evaluation process, surgery, and follow-up care. The living liver donor coordinator supports the transplant team by educating prospective donors about the living donation process.
Coordinators also help care for donors throughout the donation process.
Tracey Tuttle, BSN, RN
Living Donor Transplant Coordinator
Living Liver Program Specialist
University of Utah Health – Living Liver Donor Program
30 North 1900 East, Rm AC144
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
Living Donor Advocate
The independent living donor advocate's (ILDA) primary focus is to assist potential living donors to understand the non-medical problems, challenges, and changes that donation brings as well as an evaluation of the donor's emotional, social, support, and financial resources. The donor advocate is employed specifically to represent and advise the donor; protect and promote the donor's interests; and ensure that donor's decision is informed and free from coercion. The donor advocate provides counseling and emotional support to donors and families as they proceed through the donation process.
Lauren Shah, LCSW
Independent Living Donor Advocate (ILDA)
Office Phone: 801-585-0026
Hear From Our Patients
It's been a long 36 years for Lynn Clark, 57, who has felt "rundown and exhausted" for much of his adulthood. The Hyrum man's troubles began after a car accident in 1980 led him to receive a blood transfusion. He wouldn't discover until 2005 that the plasma was contaminated with hepatitis C, which caused cirrhosis and, finally, end-stage liver disease. He'd need a transplant to survive.
Unfortunately, the wait list for a liver is long, and many patients die before they reach the top. But a new hope—living donor transplant—is arising for patients with liver failure who have a generous loved one.